By KATHLEEN MOORE
SCHENECTADY — Schenectady City Court Judge Guido Loyola wants the two dogs that killed a dog last month back in city custody immediately.
City officials learned Thursday the dogs were no longer being held in a private kennel, where they were presumably kept from attacking other animals.
The McKearn family, who own the dogs, took them out of the kennel and sent them to friends, then refused to tell police where they were, police said. Loyola signed a seizure order Friday morning, directing police to find the dogs and hold them until a dangerous dog hearing is held Wednesday.
The dogs were being held by police, but Deputy Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico agreed to a deal in which the dogs could be moved to a private kennel, Milton Manor. He said he agreed to the move only on the condition that the dogs not be released.
The McKearns said they took the dogs out of Milton Manor earlier this week and believed they were within their rights to do so. But with the seizure order, police will again ask them where they have placed the dogs, Falotico said. If they don’t talk, they could face charges.
“If somebody were to willfully try to hide these dogs, some kind of obstruction charge could be appropriate,” he said.
At 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in City Court, Loyola will hear arguments on whether the dogs should be euthanized or otherwise restricted so they cannot attack other dogs again. The McKearns are planning to plead for their dogs’ lives, according to Lindsay McKearn.
They brought the dogs to friends who live “in the country” outside Schenectady County, McKearn said. The dogs, Victor and Tyson, are being held by separate families, she said.
“They’re being very, very careful,” McKearn said of her friends. “They’re being crated and muzzled.”
They are muzzled when they go for walks, she added, saying one reason she wanted them out of Milton Manor was because she wanted them to be walked outside.
She said she plans to argue that Victor was the aggressor in each of the three dog-biting cases against them, and Tyson simply followed along.
“It’s really important to us to save both of the dogs, but especially Tyson. He really is harmless,” she said. “Victor gets very territorial where it comes to our property.”
In the first case, in Niskayuna in 2012 , McKearn said Victor and Tyson leapt off her porch when a dog defecated on the front lawn. Victor “nipped” the dog, she said.
Then, last August, Victor pulled away from McKearn’s father, Kevin, as he stood talking to a friend during a walk, she said. Victor attacked a dog being walked nearby.
“Vic saw the beagle and darted and nipped him on the ear. There were no stitches,” she said, adding her father took responsibility for the incident.
“He didn’t have a good grip” on the leash, she said. “Tyson never got off the leash.”
The owners of the dog in the second attack confirmed their dog was not seriously hurt.
Then, last month, Victor and Tyson jumped out an open window to attack a smaller dog being walked by its owner. Lindsay McKearn said that was an error of judgment on her family’s part, because they left the window open.
The smaller dog, Templeton, died from his injuries. His owner, Rebecca Cigal, said Victor and Tyson each grabbed her dog in their teeth. But McKearn said neighbors who saw the attack would testify only Victor bit the dog.
“We are under the impression Tyson wasn’t involved,” she said. “He was only guilty by association.”
This story originally appeared in The Daily Gazette.